Identification of a conserved branched RNA structure that functions as a factor-independent terminator

Christopher M. Johnson, Yuqing Chen, Heejin Lee, Ailong Ke, Keith E. Weaver, Gary M. Dunny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Anti-Q is a small RNA encoded on pCF10, an antibiotic resistance plasmid of Enterococcus faecalis, which negatively regulates conjugation of the plasmid. In this study we sought to understand how Anti-Q is generated relative to larger transcripts of the same operon. We found that Anti-Q folds into a branched structure that functions as a factor-independent terminator. In vitro and in vivo, termination is dependent on the integrity of this structure as well as the presence of a 3' polyuridine tract, but is not dependent on other downstream sequences. In vitro, terminated transcripts are released from RNA polymerase after synthesis. In vivo, a mutant with reduced termination efficiency demonstrated loss of tight control of conjugation function. A search of bacterial genomes revealed the presence of sequences that encode Anti-Q-like RNA structures. In vitro and in vivo experiments demonstrated that one of these functions as a terminator. This work reveals a previously unappreciated flexibility in the structure of factor-independent terminators and identifies a mechanism for generation of functional small RNAs; it should also inform annotation of bacterial sequence features, such as terminators, functional sRNAs, and operons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3573-3578
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 4 2014


  • Antisense
  • Attenuation
  • Cell-cell signaling
  • Pheromone
  • Transcription

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